The Palestinian West Bank town of Tulkarem is located on fertile land about seven miles from the Mediterranean Sea and nine miles west of Nablus.
Situated between a coastal plain and a mountain, it has long been a place of trading and conquest.
Tulkarem’s name comes from from “Tur Karm,” which means the “Mountain of Vineyards.” Its economy is built on Palestinian agriculture – from citrus fruits to zataar. It is also the home of a vibrant commercial life, two soccer teams and the sole governmental university in Palestine. The population is 60,000.
In recent years, the town and surrounding area have lost land and water resources to Israeli settlements. Once famous for an abundance of water, Tulkarem now suffers from water shortages. Like the rest of the West Bank, farmers are forced to rely on pricey tankered water and rainwater collection cistern to irrigate their lands.
Over many decades Anera has helped Tulkarem families overcome challenges in an ever-shifting physical and political landscape through economic development.
Anera’s wide range of agricultural activities in the Tulkarem area has improved many farming families’ incomes by increasing the productivity of their lands and livestock, improving access to water and reducing their production costs.
IRRIGATION AND WATER CONSERVATION
In the village of An Nazla ash Sharqiya, Anera built a 132,000-gallon reservoir to manage and control the flow of available water for agricultural purposes. Anera also enlarged the capacity of a rainwater collection pool, installed and connected pipelines and placed water meters on farms.
Throughout Palestine, Anera’s water and irrigation projects have helped farmers economize their water supply by introducing them to new crops and modern irrigation techniques, as well as enhancing traditional irrigation methods. In the village of Qaffin, for instance, Anera installed a modern drip-irrigation system and rehabilitated the village’s outdated water network.
At each of the Dhinnaba and Baqa ash Sharqiya farming cooperatives, Anera built 7,000-square-foot greenhouses and installed vegetable packing facilities. Farmers were able to plant large quantities of high value crops like cherry tomatoes and bell peppers and they got further assistance from Anera in exporting their goods, management and accounting.
During the 1980s, Anera helped the Tulkarem farming cooperative to establish and equip a dairy for the processing and distribution of milk products. The factory collected milk from farmers at fair prices. Anera also assisted the cooperative in purchasing two feeding bottles, two automatic milking machines and five honey separators. These projects helped farmers increase the productivity of livestock and ultimately improve their incomes.
In the early 1990s, the Tulkarem farmer cooperative received capital money from Anera to begin its own credit program. The cooperative acted as a bank and lent money to its members. The loans in Tulkarem focused on establishing greenhouses that produced tomato and cucumber crops, especially in Deir al Ghusun and ‘Attil.
In the villages of ‘Anabta, Kur and ‘Attil, Anera built water and sanitation infrastructure to solve problems with water loss, contamination and shortages, caused by dilapidated networks.
In the small village of ‘Anabta, Anera replaced deteriorated pipelines with new steel pipes that extended further into the community and served more homes. In Kur, Anera established a new water network, as the village had entirely depended on rainwater collection cisterns and pricey tankered water for their daily needs. This 2013 project also included construction of a 53,000-gallon reservoir.
The town of ‘Attil was suffering from a severe water shortage caused by insufficient reservoir capacity and pipeline leakage. In 2015, Anera built a 264,000-gallon water reservoir, installed new pipelines to homes, and rehabilitated the existing water network.
In the early 1990s, Anera assisted in the building of an industrial zone in the outskirts of ‘Anabta. The zone houses several units.
Anera also established a new wholesale market in Tulkarem in 2009. With 10,763 square feet of space and 18 stores, it has improved the business environment for all farmers, big and small. It also helps preserve the quality of produce through efficient handling and storing.
Contributing to Education
The Dar Al-Yateem Orphanage Society in Tulkarem was among Anera’s scholarship program recipients. The 30-year program was established in 1979 and provided scholarships to deprived and needy students in Palestine and Lebanon through selected educational institutions like the orphanage.
After the scholarship program ended, Anera established an income-generation project at the orphanage in 2011, so the school could support itself. The project consisted of a chicken coop with 1,200 chickens that produced around 34 cartons of eggs per day, with 30 eggs per carton. The children of the orphanage all volunteer at the coop, an experience which Principal Ra’fat Qab believes to be educational, character-building and motivational.
In Kafr Sur, Ar Ras and Qaffin, in the early 2000s, Anera enhanced the learning environment in schools by building new or renovating existing classrooms and toilets and by improving the surrounding outdoor space.
In 2004, Anera constructed an 1,830 square foot multipurpose hall in the village of Kafr Jammal that would serve as an educational and cultural center for women.
Anera is currently working on Qaffin’s elementary and preparatory school, whose 560 students sometimes have to learn inside classrooms located in the humid and poorly-lit and ventilated basement floor. Soon, six classrooms will be built on to the school in addition to adding handicap-accessible toilet units. The existing school building will also be renovated.
Contributing to Health
In 2013, Anera renovated a two-floor clinic in northern Tulkarem, providing a healthier environment for patients and medical staff. In the village of Zeita, Anera built a brand new clinic to serve a community of 3,000 residents.
Despite the many hardships in West Bank towns like Tulkarem, you can help improve the lives of Palestinian residents through economic development and long-term support. Give to Anera today.